The Sports Page

The Sports Page: The Amazing Race 6, Leg 6, Part 1

TARflies to Cabbie: Marry me.

This leg had a great deal of activity to no great effect, with mechanical fumbling, getting lost, and half-naked girls.
Kendra, clearly not a morning person, suggested that she and Freddy return to the hotel for some research before proceeding. Oh yeah, research. Back at the hotel. Bamp-chicka-wow.
In pre-dawn Berlin, racers were sent from the Brandenburg Gate to Checkpoint Charlie, an infamous Cold War crossing between East and West Berlin. Kendra, clearly not a morning person, suggested that she and Freddy return to the hotel for some research before proceeding. Oh yeah, research. Back at the hotel. Bamp-chicka-wow. Missing the signs, Freddy urged them on to the Checkpoint instead. The other teams followed, some on foot, some in taxis, none having any trouble — if you don’t count Hayden nearly getting flattened by Jonathan and Victoria’s cab. Look both ways, girl. In the end, everyone arrived in the same order that they left the Pit Stop.

The next stop was the Olympic Stadium. Things shook up a bit here, with Hayden and Aaron pulling ahead of Jonathan and Victoria, courtesy of a better cab driver and faster feet in the dash to the clue box. All teams signed up, in the order they arrived, for the next morning’s activity, beginning at six a.m.

Mixing things up, this week the Roadblock came early. The task here was the Hot Rocket Bungee - a two-hundred-foot slingshot into the air, guaranteed to keep your chiropractor’s kids in Gap wear for the next 10 years. All the ladies take on this one, no doubt planning to slough off the inevitable eat-a-bug Roadblock by pointing to the fact that they RISKED DEATH here. Kendra starts things off and immediately causes the rest of the sisterhood to reconsider the attractions of bug-eating by spinning, moaning, fainting, and generally acting messed up. You know, a good strategy for the person doing this first would be to act like it nearly killed them. If it was enough to make one of the later teams hesitate, it could buy some time.

The rest of the ladies followed Kendra. Much screaming, shouting, and cheering ensued, and all of them returned to the ground safely. While this Roadblock was certainly exciting for the racers, and it gave the viewer some great visuals, race-wise it was a bust. Once teams signed up, there was no ground to be gained or lost, and the person doing the Roadblock was basically a cannonball — no skill required. (Sorry, Jon.) Roadblocks and Detours are an opportunity to shake things up, especially after a big bunch like this, and it’s too bad that this one didn’t.

From the Roadblock, teams cabbed it to the airport to catch flights to Budapest. And here, we have the one thing this entire leg that actually made a difference in the outcome. Freddy and Kendra arrived first, followed by Hayden and Aaron, both teams securing tickets on the first flight out on Malev Airlines. Next to arrive were Jonathan and Victoria, who also went to the Malev counter in search of tickets. Then came Kris and Jon, then Gus and Hera. The latter pair, rather than following the crowd to the airline counters, popped into the first travel agent’s office they passed. While Jonathan and Victoria were discovering the existence of the Malev flight, Gus and Hera were already getting the last available seats on it.
This was a very big deal for Gus and Hera. And for Jonathan, too, who deployed his full arsenal of complaining, wheedling, and demanding to try and get his team on the flight, to no avail.
As the next flight — via Air Berlin — landed fully an hour later, this was a very big deal for Gus and Hera. And for Jonathan, too, who deployed his full arsenal of complaining, wheedling, and demanding to try and get his team on the flight, to no avail. Along with Kris and Jon and Adam and Rebecca, he and Victoria were relegated to flight number two. Bringing up the rear, still, were Lori and Bolo, who couldn’t seem to buy a break this week. By the time they arrived, Air Berlin was full and they had to scramble for a flight, via Munich, that got them into Budapest dead last.

On arrival in Budapest, teams selected one of a number of Trabants for a drive to Eger. The Trabant, it turns out, is a car that was manufactured in the old Soviet east bloc. Trabants are to cars what Socialist Realism is to art. They have a two-stroke engine — like your lawnmower — and a body, I kid you not “made out of resin, strengthened by wool.” Yes, wool. Teams had to get these things moving and keep them going for a good hundred kilometers or so. Somewhere, Meredith and Maria are watching this episode and laughing.

Off flight number one, Gus climbs in — looking more than a bit like Mr. Incredible — and gets his and Hera’s ride rolling with little difficulty. Freddy and Kendra also manage to get moving, but not Hayden and Aaron, who eventually need a replacement car before moving an inch. That’s a bad sign. They still manage to clear the parking lot before the next flight gets in. Jonathan and Victoria and Kris and Jon get off to a good start, but Rebecca and Adam are baffled by the Trabant’s three-on-the-tree configuration and are still in the lot when Lori and Bolo arrive. Still, they beat the wrestlers out, preserving their unbroken last-place run.

On the highway, some teams do well. Freddy and Kendra overtake Gus and Hera to arrive first in Eger, scene of this week’s Detour. Racers have a choice between Catapult Crash and Cannonball Run. The former requires them to use a catapult to launch a melon at a wooden target, a task that is physically non-demanding, but somewhat random and fraught with the risk of a messy friendly-fire incident. The latter has teams drag a cannon up a hill, along with 55 four-pound cannonballs. That seems like a lot, but I’m betting it’s less than Gus hauls around every second of every day, so…

Freddy and Kendra go for the cannonballs and execute the task with little difficulty. The next clue sends them to the train station to catch a ride back to Budapest. Gus and Hera are next at the Detour. After a couple of tries with the catapult, they quickly decide to go with the cannon. They are still hauling balls when Jonathan and Victoria — making excellent time on the highway — arrive. Jonathan and Victoria also choose the cannon, and deploy a tarp to help haul the cannonballs. Both teams complete the task and head for the train station.

Hayden and Aaron are next at the Detour, having lost time on the road after missing the vital Eger exit. Meanwhile, Kris and Jon are both lost and in mechanical trouble, eventually requiring a replacement car. While they wait, Freddy and Kendra board the first train to Budapest alone, Gus and Hera share the second train with Jonathan and Victoria, and Hayden and Aaron complete the cannonball run. By this time, all the trailing teams are experiencing car trouble. Adam and Rebecca, stuck on the roadside, are saved by the kindness of strangers while Lori and Bolo need a greater intervention in the form of the third replacement car of the leg.
Rebecca and Adam, sixth to the detour, decide to catapult. However, after they nearly drop the first melon on their own, er, melons, they decide to switch out to cannons.
Kris and Jon make it to the Detour in fifth place and opt for the cannon. They finish and join Hayden and Aaron at the train station. Rebecca and Adam, sixth to the detour, decide to catapult. However, after they nearly drop the first melon on their own, er, melons, they decide to switch out to cannons. They finish that without further injury and proceed to the train station.

In Budapest, Freddy and Kendra are the first to arrive. They proceed to the next clue at the Net Club Internet Café and bump right into another of this leg’s several bunch points — this time, in the form of hours of operation that begin at ten p.m. Gus and Hera and Jonathan and Victoria, arriving on the second train, are in a race to the Café until Jonathan’s haranguing of his driver goes a bit too far. The cabbie throws a flag on the play, and Jonathan and Victoria are evicted. They quickly find a more tolerant driver, but not in time to avoid third place behind Gus and Hera. The third train deposits Hayden and Aaron and Kris and Jon, and they make their way to join the line at the Café in fourth and fifth place.

As Adam and Rebecca wait at the train station, Lori and Bolo finally make it to the detour. Unsurprisingly, they opt for heavy lifting and complete the cannonball run. Meanwhile, Adam and Rebecca proceed to Budapest. By the time the wrestlers — who can, for this leg, safely be described as “hapless” — get to the train station, the last carriage for Budapest has departed. Adam and Rebecca reach the Café an hour before it opens. So we have the Roadblock done, the Detour done, and one team that is at least eight or nine hours behind all the rest. Smells like Philimination, doesn’t it?

Well, no, actually it doesn’t. As six teams file into the Café, and one curls up on a bench in the rain, the words TO BE CONTINUED appear. No Pit Stop, no Phil, no nothing. What the hell was that, anyway?

And now, this week’s winners…

In a week notable only for the total lack of significance of just about everything that took place, there is only one possibility for the Play of the Week. Every team but one finished in exactly the same order they had started — every team but Gus and Hera. Arriving at the Berlin airport, they headed for the first travel agent they saw and scooped the last tickets on the first plane to Budapest. That gained them an hour, which they held onto for the rest of the leg. The fact that it caused Jonathan to lose his nut was just gravy.
Cabbies have seen it all, dude. Birth, death, buckets of vomit, they’ve driven them all around. So when you are so obnoxious that you get kicked out of the cab? That’s a sign. Dial it down.
Before announcing this week’s Smooth Move, I’d like a moment of silence for all those unsung Trabant gearboxes who gave their all for our entertainment. Thank you. That’s all the recognition they get this week, because our winner, while automotive in nature, occurred in the more luxurious confines of a Budapest taxicab. While a bit of encouragement — preferably accompanied by crisp twenty-dollar bills — can help your cabbie give his all, remember that there is a human being behind that wheel, with needs and desires. Such as the need not to have someone screaming in his ear, and the desire to choke the shit out of someone who does. Cabbies have seen it all, dude. Birth, death, buckets of vomit, they’ve driven them all around. So when you are so obnoxious that you get kicked out of the cab? That’s a sign. Dial it down.

I can’t say that there’s any one place Where the wheels came off the bus this week. Lori and Bolo started behind, ran behind, and stayed behind. It’s not that they did anything particularly wrong — it’s just that they didn’t do anything right. They got lost, but so did other teams. They needed a new car, but so did other teams. This was a bunchy leg, and to get ahead teams really needed to pull a rabbit out of a hat. Gus and Hera managed it, Lori and Bolo didn’t. Which is why it was the wrestlers who were sleeping in the rain when the TBC came up on the screen.

Next Week

Who knows? Seriously, will there be one elimination? Two? What gives? So without tying myself to a when, I’ll say that Lori and Bolo and Adam and Rebecca are on the list this week. The wrestlers have been following Don and MJ around the drain since IKEA. As for the former daters, when your last three finishes work out to the Number of the Beast, you can expect that your own personal Apocalypse will follow shortly.
Leg 6-6a At a Glance

ROADBLOCK
Hot Rocket
Ride a Hot Rocket Bungee two hundred feet into the air.
TeamTaken byRecordInOut
Freddy/KendraKendra(2/5)11
Hayden/AaronHayden(3/5)22
Jonathan/VictoriaVictoria(2/5)33
Kris/JonKris(2/5)44
Gus/HeraHera(3/5)55
Adam/RebeccaRebecca(2/5)66
Lori/BoloLori(3/5)77


DETOUR
Catapult Crash
Cannonball Run
Use a catapult to hit a wooden target with a melon.Move a cannon and fifty-five cannonballs up a hill.
TeamInOutTeamInOut
Freddy/Kendra11
Gus/Hera*22
Jonathan/Victoria33
Hayden/Aaron44
Kris/Jon55
Adam/Rebecca*66
Lori/Bolo77

* Switched tasks once